It is displayed all throughout the Bible to give thanks in the midst of our prayers. The apostle Paul specifically wrote about this concept while in prison. Jesus displayed this when He didn’t have enough food to feed the crowds. Daniel got down on his knees to give thanks when his colleagues turned against him. What we should take away from these events is the concept of thanksgiving joining our prayers of supplication. In other words, give praise to the One who can provide it, instead of just asking Him for it.
Case in point, a situation I find myself in as of this very minute, that perhaps is happening so I can share it with you…
Last year, my friends and I (whom I consider some of my closest family) took a beach trip to a campground in southern New Jersey. We had a great time and it provided the much anticipated rest and relaxation we needed. Fast forward to this year, where we decided we would do the same thing again, only this time maybe step it up a notch and renting out an entire beach house for the weekend.
Much to our dismay, we kept getting turned down or not responded to when it came to find a place for our large group (about 10 or 12 of us). Most of the time these places wanted a week’s stay, but for a large group of working professionals, some of which with kids, that was a much easier task in theory than executed. So we decided we would return to the same campground as last year—mainly because of our pleasant experience there and rent out the same two cabins we had reserved before.
So last night, I made the online reservation, received the site confirmation and sent out the email informing our group to get psyched. Beach weekend, here we come!
Then this afternoon on my lunch break, I received a call from the campground…
Caller: “Hi, this is (blank) from (campground) calling about your reservation.”
Me: “Yes! I was expecting your call.”
(Thinking to confirm my reservation before charging my card.)
Caller: “I see you have reserved two cabins. How many people are staying in each cabin?”
Me: “6 per cabin, as indicated by your website. I see that it is the max number with an additional fee. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
Caller: “Are there any kids?”
Me: “Nope, all adults.”
Caller (changes tone): “Oh, I’m sorry, we only rent to families. We won’t be able to accommodate you.”
Me (flabbergasted): “What do you mean? We ARE a family. And we rented the exact same scenario last year. I don’t understand what the problem is.”
Caller: “Well, we are a family resort. So if you do not have any kids, we cannot rent to you. Sorry, but this is my boss’ rule.”
After asking to speak with her manager, the request was met with hesitation followed by an unknown estimation of when exactly that boss would be back in the office. Eventually, after much displeasure, the worker informed me that her boss would be in later today and at which time, she would have her call me back.
Needless to say, I was frustrated beyond belief. What constitutes this decision? Are kids the only way of determining a “family?” Does a guest have to undergo DNA testing to show that are related to a family? What about extended families? Adopted families? Church “families?” Are we being discriminated against in another way perhaps?
So I called my friend to deliver the startling news. She has a child who needs to be attended to more than others, so for her our trip was to be a much needed getaway and an escape from the demanding pressures of being a full-time (and overtime) mom in such a difficult situation. We tried to figure out what to anticipate once the owner of the campground called me back. Would we even still want to go anymore, knowing that we may not even be wanted there to begin with? Was the caller just a new employee who misinterpreted the so-called “rules?”
All of these questions swirled about me and ruined my lunch. I was filled with anxiety. Then I remembered the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV)…
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I immediately went into prayer…
Lord, I do not know why I am in this situation. It transcends all logic to think that a place of business who would desire my money would suddenly turn me away. This vacation getaway is something that was meant to bring us fun and now here it is turning into another ordeal and a reminder of the stresses in our lives. We need You to intervene on our behalf. However, without you allowing us the time and money to plan such a vacation, we would not even be able to experience this dilemma to begin with. So I give praise and thanks to you Jesus Christ for blessing me with the funds to put together the initial deposit, the job to be able to pay for the trip as a whole and the close “family” of friends to enjoy it with. This matter is not in my control now. You are my God and the One who leads me right where I need to be. So no matter what happens—whether or not we get denied our reservation, You Lord, are the One may have something much better for us in store. And You Lord, are the One who fights my battles. So I trust You to do what is right, according to Your Will, and I will give thanks for it either way. Help calm my temper to see past the circumstances in my narrow view. Thank you for allowing me the ability to praise You in the midst of my crisis. In Jesus’ name, I give thanks and I pray.
And here I am now, awaiting the campground’s call and writing this to you now. Sure, I am not thrilled over the circumstances, but after writing this, I am filled with a sense of peace. So I will keep you updated in how God chooses to use this circumstance to His glory. I hope my words might keep you focused on your own joys in the middle of your struggles this weekend too. Peace be with you.
UPDATE: The next day, the same employee from the campground called me back. I had missed the call, but a voicemail was left stating that she had worked it out with the owner and would go ahead and process the reservation. (I was informed that the owner had some things going on at the time so she wasn’t able to speak with me directly.) I told my friend this and her reply was—“ah, the power of prayer.” Indeed. Our God is a mighty God and is always up to something much larger than what we perceive. Although we may never find out the true reason why certain things work out in the ways that they do, we can be at peace resting in the fact that the Lord works in strange and mysterious ways—and often behind the scenes!
(Image credits and rights go to deepsixphotography.wordpress.com, bravenewworldtraveler.com, and Shore Shot Images.)